NSU women finally capture Southland Conference indoor track crown

FINALLY:  The Northwestern State women’s track and field team shattered its glass ceiling Monday by claiming a long-awaited Southland Conference crown in dramatic fashion. (Photo courtesy Southland Conference)


BIRMINGHAM —Heading into the final event of the Southland Conference Indoor Championships Monday afternoon, all that stood between the Northwestern State women’s track & field team and its elusive first team title was a successful showing in one of its best events. 

While the NSU women didn’t win that race, the 4×400-meter relay team did what it needed to do — finish ahead of Lamar and UIW — to capture its first ever women’s team title at the two-day Southland Indoor Championships at the Birmingham Crossplex.

“It feels great to finally get one,” head coach Mike Heimerman said. “It is like a monkey off our back. This is a very young group and it shows they have a ton of confidence. I am really excited for what is to come.” 

The quartet of Sian Weller, Sanaria Butler, Maygan Shaw and Vanessa Balde finished second in the final  event with a time of 3:45.50, only bested by Texas A&M-Commerce’s season-best performance. 

“We knew we were gassed due to our athletes having competed already that day,” Heimerman said. “But I would not have wanted anyone else out there to try to secure a championship. I knew if they were to run a decent time, we had it.” 

Heading into the race, NSU was tied with UIW and Lamar for the top spot in the team scoring with 103 points, setting up a championship race. 

NSU finished with 111 points, while Lamar came in second with 107 and UIW came in third with 103. The three-point margin of victory for the team title was the closest since 2006, when the top three teams were separated by three points.

The Lady Demons had finished in the top three the past six seasons, and had been bridesmaids before at times since NSU joined the Southland in 1987, but never could break through and win it — until Monday. 

Lynell Washington was a star for the champs, winning a pair of golds in the 60 meters and 200 meters. 

On the men’s side, the Demons came in second with 104 points, only trailing 143.5 by repeat conference champion UIW.